History of Ustick Township
From Bent-Wilson History Book, 1877
Posted by Dana Fellows

The part of the present township of Ustick within one mile of the east line of range 4 east, originally formed a portion of Union Precinct, and the part lying west of that line belonged first to Albany Precinct, and afterwards the whole of the township was included in Fulton Precinct. In this condition it remained until it was organized as a township by itself, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of creating townships in 1852. It includes township 22 north of base line, range 4 east of the 4th principal meridian. The topography of the township is considerably diversified, the extreme western part, lying under the bluffs, being level, then coming the bluffs, which rise in many places almost abruptly to a considerable height and the balance eastward consisting of rolling prairie. Aside from the bluffs themselves the township is particularly rich as an agricultural district, all the crops grown in this section of the west producing abundantly. The small portion of the town not adapted to grain raising is advantageously used as pasturage and meadow land. Since the prairie fires have ceased, timber has grown up thriftily in carious parts of the town, adding greatly to the beauty of the scenery. The town is watered by Otter creek and its tributaries in the northern part, and by Spring creek in a portion of the southern part. Both of these streams, with most of the tributaries of the former, take their rise in the town. Besides these, abundance of the finest water is supplied by the wells.
The earliest settlers for the most part located under the bluffs, a few making claims in the southern part. It was quite a number of years before the other parts of the township became settled, many thinking that the great expanse of prairie, now forming some of the best farming lands in the county, were not adapted for the homes of white men. The first actual settler was Wooster Y. IVES, who came from Connecticut in 1837. About the same time Edward CORBIN came up from Albany, and the two made a claim under the bluff, Mr. CORBIN, however, soon disposing of his interest to Mr. IVES. This claim covered the farm for a long time owned and occupied by Mr. IVES, and now owned by Alonzo E. SMITH. Amos SHORT, from Indiana, and Edward ROLPH, also came and settled in 1837. A Mr. FRENCH, and a Mr. TOWNSEND, came the same year, and did not remain long. Lewis GRAVES, Allen GRAVES, Jesse JOHNSON, and Henry BOND, from New York, and Henry CONE, now living in Thompson, came in 1838. In 1839, William H. KNIGHT from Maine, David INGHAM, Hiram INGHAM, and Mr. CHURCH from New York, Oliver HALL, from New England, and Reuben PATRICK, and Asa PATRICK, from Canada, came; and in 1840, Elias SAGE, Wilson S. WRIGHT, John MAHENY, Thomas MAHENY, and John HOLLINSHEAD and his sons. Among those who came from 1840 to 1843 were William WATT, James LOGAN, Jacob BAKER, Oliver BAKER, John McKENZIE, Levi HOUGHTON, William SAVAGE, Warren BOND, and Roys OATMAN. The latter lived in the town until 1850, when he started with his family to seek a home in southern California. Upon arriving in the present Territory of Arizona, the family were attacked by Indians, the fearful result of which will be found further on in the history of this township. William WATT met an untimely death by falling into a cauldron of hot water used for scalding hogs. Amos SHORT went to the Pacific coast in 1846, and lost his life, by being shipwrecked at the mouth of the Columbia river.
The first house put up in the town was of logs, and built by Wooster Y. IVES in 1837. Its site was near the present stone dwelling house, also erected by Mr. IVES on the farm now owned by Alonzo E SMITH. The first frame house was erected by Oliver HALL, about 1840, on the farm now owned by S.W. GOFF. The timber for this house was taken from the grove in Union Grove township, and was the first taken from timber growing there.
The first white child born in what is now Ustick township, was Rosetta PATRICK, a daughter of Thomas and Louise PATRICK, her birth occurring in 1840..
The first parties to enter into the holy bonds of wedlock, were Thomas PATRICK and Miss Louise INGHAM, the notable event taking place in 1839. The second marriage was that of William H. KNIGHT and Miss Sarah R JOHNSON which took place November 24, 1840.
The first death was a child of Amos SHORT, who was drowned in a spring on Mr. SHORT'S claim in 1840. The first adult death was Mrs. Julia Ann RUSH, and occurred in 1842. The husband of Mrs. RUSH was a brother of Richard RUSH, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Mrs. RUSH was herself a stout patriot in her early days, and frequently donned the male attire and performed picket duty whenever she got an opportunity, at her home in Philadelphia. She was buried on the bluffs above the present residence of Joshua HOLLINSHEAD, the ground being yet used as a burial place. The death of Mr. John HOLLINSHEAD, the father of the Messrs. HOLLINSHEAD now residing in Ustick, occurred soon after her, and his remains were interred in the same ground.
The first school was taught by Miss Armenia INGHAM, in the chamber of Amos SHORT'S log cabin, in the summer of 1841. The entrance to the school room was by a stairs leading from the outside of the building. The cabin was situated under the bluffs, by the spring near Levi HOUGHTON'S present house. The scholars were Charles C. KNIGHT and Miss NANCY INGHAM, besides Mr. SHORT'S children. The first school house was built on a corner of Jessie JOHNSON'S farm, on section 8, in 1844. It was a small stone building, but amply sufficient to accommodate all the scholars in the town at that day, and is still standing. Miss Sarah JENKS was the first teacher. The district has been known as District No. 1 from that time. The second school house was built in 1846, on section 32, and is known as the Franklin, or by many as the Cottonwood school house. There are now eight school districts in the town, each having a good school house, several of them new, and all well provided with the necessary appendages of a modern school. The township has a school fund of nearly ten thousand dollars.
The younger portion of the early settlers of Ustick were not indifferent to a proper cultivation of their musical talents, and hence obtained the services of the singing teacher. This pedagogue in the art of teaching the young music ideas how to shoot, was Seymour TOMLINSON, and the singing school kept in Ed. ROLPHS house under the bluffs, the time being the winter of 1843-44. A large number of scholars attended, coming from miles around, and the meeting nights were looked forward to with a great deal of interest. The singing part was of itself very attractive, but the occasion the meeting furnished for social intercourse was undoubtedly equally as drawing. How many matches were made there which were afterwards consummated by life partnerships, there are now no means of ascertaining. We have it from a good source, however, that many date their happiness as husbands and wives to the singing school in the little cabin of Ed. ROLPH, in that long ago winter.
The circumstances of the massacre of most of the OATMAN family by the Indians, while on their way to seek a home in Southern California, a brief reference to which has been already made in the history of the township, will be remembered by many of the residents of Ustick, and adjoining towns. Roys OATMAN came from Ohio to Illinois in 1834, and located in LaHarp, Hancock County and in 1842 moved to Ustick, and settled on section 32, where he remained until 1849 when he sold his farm to Henry BOND, and during the next year started with his family, consisting of his wife and seven children, for southern California, taking the overland route by the way of Independence Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The journey had been pleasantly made until the family reached the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers, in the present Territory of Arizona, about one hundred and sixty miles from Fort Yuma, where they were suddenly attacked by a band of Indians, and Mr. and Mrs. OATMAN, and four of the children, barbarously murdered. Lorenzo, one of the boys, was left as dead by the Indians, but recovered, and finally reached the settlements in safety. Two girls, Olive and Mary Ann, aged respectively nine and seven years, were carried into captivity. Mary Ann died two years afterwards of starvation and Olive was finally rescued after five years search, and restored to her friends, during which time she suffered untold hardships, having been several times bough and sold as a slave, and branded on the face with the slave mark. Mrs. OATMAN was a sister of Mrs. A.m> ABBOTT, of Ustick, and was a woman of fine social and intellectual accomplishments, having enjoyed excellent advantages in her early days.
For a considerable time after the settlement of the township, section 16, set apart for raising a school fund, was considered to be worthless for agricultural purposes, and the inhabitants petitioned the General Land Office at Washington to have the school section changed to a location which could be readily brought into market, but the petition was not granted. Mr. Wooster Y. IVES, the Nimrod of Whiteside county then and since, soon after this refusal offered $800 for the section, his intention being if he could secure it, to erect a high fence around it, and make it a deer park. Against this proposition many of the settler set their faces with a determination irrevocable in its nature. They had no objection to Mr. IVES, whom they considered one of the most worthy residents of the town, hunting deer, wherever he could find them running wild, but to make a deer pen of a whole section of land was entirely foreign to their ideas of what was just and right in the premises. Others favored the plan Mr. IVES, and endeavored to induce the then School Trustees, Messrs. A.M. ABBOTT, Oliver BAKER, and Aaron W. IVES, to sell him the section, arguing that it would be better to turn it into a deer park, than to allow it to remain a worthless waste to the town. The Trustees, however, decided with the opponents of the proposition and finally, after having it properly surveyed, succeeded in selling it for $2,600 to parties desiring it for farming purposes. This sale destroyed the last hope of establishing a magnificent park in the township in which animals ferea natura could be cabined, cribbed and confined.
Ustick has had her contests as to the name she should be known and designated by, as well as some other townships in the county. For about two years prior to the time the Commissioners appointed by the COunty Commissioners Court defined the boundaries, and gave names to the several townships, the present township of Ustick was called by and known as Salem Township, and had the inhabitants been privileged at that time to have had a voice in the selection of a name, the old one of Salem would have been retained by a majority. But unhappily for the Salem advocates, the Commissioners were induced to believe that the name of Ustick would be much more appropriate for such a beautiful township of land, than Salem, the latter smacking too strongly of witches and the summary manner of putting a quietus upon their incantation. Had the first township organization proved legal, all this would have been avoided. under that organization a town meeting for Salem township was held in April 1850 and Alpheus MATTHEWS elected Supervisor; A.M. ABBOTT, Town Clerk; Oliver BAKER, Justice of the Peace, with the other usual town officers, none of whom however, served. So wedded had the inhabitants become to the name of Salem that when it was changed to Ustick they sent a petition to the State Legislature at Springfield to have the former name restored, but information was returned that there was already a township by that name in the State which was a county seat, and that therefore the petition could not be granted. Not content with this another petition was gotten up and sent on to Springfield, to have the name changed to Wooster, but to this no response was made, and the matter of changing the name of the township by the Commissioners, ended then and there.
The township has also had its full measure of trouble in laying out new roads, and the changing of the location of old ones, keeping the Commissioners of Highways, especially of late years, busily engaged in this regard. Messrs. Joel W FARLEY and Harrison HOUGHTON of the Board of Commissioners, have kindly exhibited to us the proceedings of the Board for a number of years as to road contests, but interesting as they are, we find them too voluminous for publication in a work of this kind. Suffice it to say, that it will take some time before road matters in the township are amicably settled.
The first Postoffice in the town was established in 1850, and was called Hemlo. Mr. A M ABBOTT was commissioned as Postmaster, and the office located at his residence on the Fulton and Morrison road. The office was continued for nearly eight years, the mail being brought by a stage coach running from Fulton to Sterling, until the present Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was finished, when the stage was hauled off, and the mail brought by a special carrier from Fulton. The name of the office was selected in rather a peculiar way. Twenty-six small blocks were prepared, upon each of which a letter of the alphabet from A to Y inclusive was cut and put into a hat and shaken up, those present agreeing that the first letter drawn should stand as the initial one of the name which the Postoffice should bear. It happened that the letter H was the first one drawn; then the letter E, and so on until six were taken out, smelling the word Hemlo. Then a half was demanded in the he proceedings, for fear that a continuance should be had the next two letters drawn would be C and K, thus making the name Hemlock, one that would be sure to defeat the end sought to be attained. Hence Hemlo became the name of the Postoffice. Mr. ABBOTT continued to hold the office until Clifton station, at the edge of the bluffs, was established by the Railroad Company, when it was taken to that place, and the name changed to Clifton. William PEARSON was first appointed Postmaster for that point, and afterwards Henry HOOVER, who held this position until the station was abandoned, and the Postoffice ceased to exist. The second Postoffice in the township was established about 1853, and named Ustick, Oliver BAKER receiving the appointment as Postmaster. When the project of establishing a mail route from Fulton to Galena was being urged, it was considered politic to request as many Postoffices on the route as possible, so as to make it appear to the Government that a large amount of postal business demanded the facilities which it would afford. The route was established, and nearly all the requests for Postoffices were granted. Mr. BAKER kept the Ustick Postoffice at his residence, under the bluffs. The mail coach was run by Flick & Walker, and was made by them a passenger as well as a mail line. Besides receiving mail from Fulton and Galena, a branch line connected with the route from the north, by the way of Argo, Carroll county. The Ustick Postoffice was kept in existence until Mr. BAKER after repeated efforts to have it discontinued, forwarded the key to the Department at Washington , which put an end to it. The third Postoffice was established in 1857, and named Summit Hill from the high ground upon which it was located. Mr. Meril MEAD, then a resident of Ustick, but for several years living in Morrison, was appointed Postmaster, and kept the office at his house situated on the Northeast quarter of the Northwest quarter of section 24, not far from the township line between Ustick and Clyde. The mail was brought from Morrison to Summit Hill, once a week. The office was continued four years, when it was abolished at the earnest solicitations of Mr. MEAD, as the receipts were of a somewhat indefinite quantity. Ustick was left without a Postoffice when these three went out of existence.
The first ground broken on the railroad, then known as the Rock River & Mississippi Railroad, was on the sand hill in the bluffs, on section 30, in the town of Ustick. This was in February 1853. In fact this was the first ground broken for a railroad between Fulton and the Junction, near Chicago. The event created a great sensation, and was really a "windfall" to the farmers of the surrounding country, as it opened up a ready market for all the grain, port, beef and hay they had to sell. Money at once become plenty.
The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad enters the township near the southeast corner of section 33, and passing through the section in a northwesterly direction, crosses the northwest corner of section 32, and the southwest corner of section 29, and then bearing to the southwest passes through section 30, leaving the town near the southwest corner of the section. When the road was first built, a station was located on section 30, called Clifton, and afterwards Bluff Station, at which considerable business was done for a time. It was finally abandoned, and nothing remains of it now excepting some ruins.
The Presbyterian church, at Spring Valley, was organized October 6, 1860, by Rev. A H LACKEY, a member of Rock River Presbytery. Twenty-two persons united together at the organization, as follows: Mr & Mrs A M MILLER, Mr & Mrs S F MILLER, James MILLER, Mr & Mrs A W RITCHIE, Mr & Mrs A S RITCHIE, Mr & Mrs Peter DURWARD, Mr & Mrs William McKIE, Mrs. Mary WATT, Miss Margaret WATT, Mr & Mrs H J PLANK, Mrs Eleanor MILLER, Mr & Mrs Thomas McKIE. The other names are illegible. The first elders were A W RITCHIE, A M MILLER, and H J PLANT, and the trustees John HUTCHINSON, A S RITCHIE, E G MARTINDALE, Peter DURWARD, and A M MILLER. The church edifice was erected in 1865, and fully completed in 1866, the whole cost amounting to something over twenty-two hundred dollars. The building is situated on an elevated piece of ground, and can be seen for a long distance. The pastors have been Rev. J B McCLURE, from 1862 to 1865; Rev. A KEIGWIN for a portion of the time during 1865; Rev. A H LACKEY from 1865 to 1868; Rev. A W COLVER from 1868 to 1870; Rev A W HANNA from 1870 to 1872; Rev. W D F LUMMIS from 1872 to 1874, and Rev. F J REICHERT, the present pastor, who commenced his labors in 1876. The present elders are A W RITCHIE, A M MILLER, H HALBERT and David PARKHILL.
The Methodist Episcopal Society at Spring Valley was organized in 1855 by Rev. Mr. FALKENBURGH, pastor of the M.E. Church at Unionville. We have not been able to ascertain the names of the first members. On the 30th of March, 1869, the Society met to elect Trustees, and appoint a building committee, preparatory to the erection of a church edifice. H W GOULD, Hiram SKINNER, and G F STUBBS were elected Trustees. The construction of the church building was very soon afterwards commenced and completed during the year at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars. The church is connected with the Thomson circuit of the Rock River Conference, and services are held once in two weeks. The following are the present members: H. HANSON, Mrs. K HANSON, Charles COSSELMAN, Mrs. L COSSELMAN, H F STUBBS, Mrs M B STUBBS, John McLELLEN, Mrs McLELLEN, E NORTHRUP, Mrs O NORTHRUP, Mrs M AIKMAN, Miss Gussie AIKMAN, Miss Rena AIKMAN, John IMLAY, local preacher. The present trustees are, H F STUBBS, H HANSON and Charles COSSELMAN.
The church edifice at Cottonwood was erected in 1872, at a cost of about one thousand eight hundred dollars. It was built by contributions from all classes of people, and was designed as a place of worship for all denominations. The M E Society however, have had charge of it for some time past. This Society is connected with the Fulton circuit, and services are held on Sunday afternoons by the pastor of that charge. The first Trustees were A M ABBOTT, Warren BOND, Cornelius SPRINGER, Timothy MARTIN, and Henry CANFIELD. The three first named gentlemen are still trustees. Mr. MARTIN is dead, and Mr. CANFIELD has moved away.
There are quite a number of Mennonites residing in the town, and about six years they erected a church building on section 25. Services are held every Sunday in this building, and are faithfully attended by the members.
At the breaking out of the war of the Rebellion, the people of Ustick entered heartily into the work of raising volunteers for the preservation of the Union, and many of her sons went promptly forth to the battlefield. The 8th Illinois Calvary, and the 42nd and 75th Infantry, received the greatest number of these gallant boys, probably because they could go together, but other regiments came in for a share. Many of them came back home veterans in the service, while others laid down their lives either in the hot contest of fiercely fought battles, or of disease incurred by exposure and hardship. Among those who died in the battle , or by disease, we have been able to gather the following: James MARTIN, 42nd Infantry, died of disease at Pittsburg Landing; Austin MARTIN, Company C, 8th Cavalry, died of disease at Frederick City, Maryland; Jay CANFIELD, Company C 8th Cavalry, died of disease at Alexandria Virginia; James CANFIELD, 75th Infantry, also died of disease contracted in the service; Ephraim WELDON, 75th Infantry killed in battle; John WILLIAMS, Company C 8th Cavalry killed in battle; Delos GOFF died of sun stroke in battle; Hiram MEAD and Byron WELDON died after they came home of disease contracted in the service; Robert IMLAY killed July 7 1864, while in service; Robert HALE, Captain of CO I 75th Infancy, was killed in skirmish on picket line, July 4 1864.
The first town meeting under the township organization in the town of Ustick, was held at the Franklin school house on the 6th of April 1852. Henry USTICK was chosen Moderator, and A M ABBOTT, Clerk. A committee of five, consisting of Benj. ABBOTT, S W GOFF, Oliver BAKER, Reuben BAKER and Joshua HOLLINSHEAD was appointed to draft town laws. The committee, reported the following; Article 1st, The town shall be known and designated by the name of Hemlo. Article 2d A lawful fence shall be four and one-half feet high, and the rails not more than six inches apart. Article 3d, Hogs shall not be permitted or allowed to run at large. The articles were adopted. It is proper, however to say that the first article was never carried into effect, and the town retained the name originally give to it by the Commissioners.
The following have been the principal officers of the town since its organization:
SUPERVISORS: 1852-53, John MacKENZIE; 1854, A W IVES; 1855, A M ABBOTT; 1856 John A CROUCH; 1857-59 Oliver BAKER; 1860-61 Warren BOND; 1862 Meril MEAD; 1863-66 Oliver BAKER; 1867-68 Warren BOND; 1869 G W MacKENZIE; 1870 James G GRIDLEY; 1871-73 Warren BOND; 1874-75 Alonzo E SMITH; 1876 Birney G BAKER; 1877 Warren BOND
TOWN CLERKS: 1852-54 A M ABBOTT; 1855-56 A C CROUCH; 1857-58 Dennis J FARWELL; 1859-60 Solomon FARWELL; 1861-63 Samuel F MILLER; 1864 George ELSEY; 1865 Alex. S RITCHIE; 1866-67 Geo. W MacKENZIE; 1868 John C MARTINDALE; 1869-71 A M MILLER; 1872-77 Henry HOOVER
ASSESSORS: 2852-55 Henry USTICK; 1856-58 Solomon FARWELL; 1859 Isaac GOLTROP; 1860 A C CROUCH; 1861-62 Wm. WATT; 1863-66 Rufus K BLODGETT; 1867-68 Wm PROBERT; 1869 J W FISK; 1870 R K BLODGETT; 1871-72 Joshua HOLLINSHEAD; 1873-75 R K BLODGETT; 1876-77 Joshua HOLLINSHEAD
COLLECTORS: 1852 Ira E BAKER; 1853 Hiram INGHAM; 1854-55 Reuben PATRICK; 1856 Jacob HOLLINSHEAD; 1857-59 Reuben BAKER; 1860 James MARTIN; 1861 J K ROBERTSON; 1862-63 Harvey WELDEN; 1864 O J BUFFINGTON; 1865 Timothy MARTIN; 1866 Delos P MARTIN; 1867 Augustine JOHNSON; 1868 J W HOLLINSHEAD; 1869 Daniel HOLLINSHEAD; 1870 Harrison HOUGHTON; 1871 John PAPE; 1872 James MELVILLE; 1873 Peter DURWARD; 1874 James IMLAY; 1875 E H PIERCE; 1876 Timothy MARTIN; 1877 Moses A GREEN
JUSTICE of the PEACE: 1852 Henry USTICK; Oliver BAKER; 1857 A M ABBOTT, Meril MEAD; 1860 Oliver BAKER, Meril MEAD; 1864 Oliver BAKER, Clark YOUNG; 1867 R K BLODGETT; 1868 R K BLODGETT, J D FARWELL; 1869 A S RITCHIE; 1872 A S RITCHIE, R K BLODGETT; 1876 A M ABBOTT; 1877 A M ABBOTT, A S RITCHIE
Ustick township contains 22,115 acres of improved land, and 320 acres of unimproved, ranking the third in the county for its proportion of improved to unimproved land. The towns ahead of it are Hume, which has no unimproved land and Coloma, having only 130 acres. This proportion speaks well for its location, and the fertility of its soil. The number of horses in the township in 1877, as shown by the Assessors books, is 480; number of cattle, 1,357; of mules and asses, 9; of sheep, 117; of hogs, 2172; carriages and wagons, 185; watches and clocks 145; sewing and knitting machines 80; piano fortes, 2, melodeons and organs 19. Total assessed value of lands, lots and personal property, $321,268; value of railroad property $12,100. Total assessed value of all property in 1877, $333,368.
The population of the township in 1870, as shown by the Federal census reports of that year, was 1,026, of which 776 were of native birth and 250 of foreign birth. The population in 1860, was 647. The estimated population in 1877 is 1150. Popular vote in November 1876, 183.


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